My son is four and a half and having conversations with him is a lot of fun.  He often says random things that seem to come out of nowhere.  He repeats things that I didn’t think, and sometimes really hoped, that he didn’t hear.  He uses words that I didn’t know he understood, and it’s even more fun when he doesn’t really understand how to use them. 

I’ve also noticed that he has words and phrases that he has made a regular part of his conversational repertoire.  To be more specific, he finds a way to work the word actually into every other sentence.  It takes great effort for him to pronounce it correctly, but he usually makes it work.  After he had done this for a few days, I started to wonder where he picked it up and I started paying more attention to the words and phrases I use regularly.

As it turns out, I actually do say actually a lot.  I also tend to mumble things like daggum and dangit when things aren’t going well.  When things are going my way, though, I turn to words like awesome and woo-hoo.

We all have “catch phrases” that we tend to use over and over.  It’s usually something we think sounds cool at some point, or a phrase that we’ve heard others use a lot, or just something that we are comfortable with.  Some of them are pretty consistent when stepping on Legos and getting cut off in traffic, while others indicate a victory by a favorite team or a Todd Agnew song coming on the radio.

In my daily reading recently, I came across a passage that made me think about those daily catch phrases that I use.  Just after David drops a hot Psalm to celebrate the ark of the Lord, we get an immediate response from everybody in ear-shot.

Then all the people said “Amen” and “Praise the Lord.” (1 Chronicles 16:36b NIV)

Amen and Praise the Lord were responses that were ready and waiting on the lips of God’s people.  These phrases were obviously something they said regularly as they all shouted them in unison. 

Yes, I hear people saying these things in church and around Bible studies.  But why is this not our response to a well-cooked meal or hitting consecutive green lights?  Why do we choose to save our Godly catch phrases for what we consider to be Godly situations?

The next time you get the chance to proclaim a victory or celebrate a joyful occasion, try to remember to give a shout out to the Lord.  After all, shouldn’t we give credit where credit is due?  If we do it often enough, it might even become one of our go-to catch phrases.  I'd say that's a pretty holy habit to have, wouldn't you?

_I have a confession to make. I’m scared of the dark.  There, I said it.  Ever since I was a kid, I could not stand to be alone in the dark.  It wasn’t the dark, necessarily, that I was afraid.  It was the things out there that the dark did not allow me to see.  Don’t lie, you know exactly what I am talking about.

While I still keep the Flashlight app on the home screen of my phone just in case, a friend of mine said something a few years ago that gave me a new perspective on darkness.  He said, “darkness does not exist.”  Apparently, he has never heard of blackout curtains…and he did not watch UK play football last Fall. 

Actually, he had a good point.  It is 100% impossible to produce darkness.  What we perceive as darkness is simply the absence of light.  Light, I might add, is very powerful and even the least bit of it can overcome a vast amount of so-called darkness. 

At the risk of being painfully obvious, allow me to directly apply the light versus darkness paradigm to the good versus evil discussion.  While saying “evil does not exist” feels wrong and even a bit scary, it seems fitting that anything we perceive as evil can be more aptly described as a lack of good.  Or, for us Christians, evil can be thought of as the lack of God’s presence in any given situation. 

If you are saying, “but God is everywhere, Jamie, there should be no evil at all according to your argument,” hold your horses.  I’m getting there.  Of course God is everywhere.  However, due to the free will He gives us, we can choose to exclude God from our lives.  We can choose to remove Him from the situations we are involved in.  When we do that, evil starts to creep in.  The lack of God’s presence in any circumstance leaves the door open for evil to have a fighting chance against us.

Luckily, God desperately wants to be a part of our lives.  He wants to be close to us so badly that He sent His only Son to die and be raised again so that we can have a relationship with Him.  Just like light, the presence of the Lord in any situation can easily eradicate any amount of evil.  But it is up to us to invite God into our lives.  It is our responsibility to put God first and be as Christ-like as possible so that the only true good, the only pure light in the world, can eliminate all darkness and evil that tries to latch onto our lives. 

What have you done to help brighten the place up lately?